"A Journey of Light and Shadow"
Penumbear begins moody, with its protagonist, a black teddy bear with a white scarf, lost in the dim basement of a grim castle. He is alone in the darkness, until a purple firefly appears and lights the way for him. With his new friend, the bear sets off into the shadows, looking for a way out of the castle.
Throughout the journey, the moodiness with which Penumbear begins lingers, permeating the entire experience. More than telling a gripping story, the game strives to immerse you in a gloomy atmosphere, and it does that well. From dungeons dark and trap-laden (and scattered with ripped-up teddy bears) to caverns riddled with all sorts of unpleasant monsters –all of which are accompanied by awesomely moody music– Penumbear delights in pulling you into its sullen depths.
However, even with all the darkness, there is light, and it is in that where Penumbear's mood extends into its gameplay. Though it is rather straightforward in its platforming execution, the game bends it around the bear's special ability to walk on penumbras (the edges of shadows, essentially) like solid platforms. Not only can you walk on shadows, you can even control them to an extent, as some lights can be turned on and off, which factors heavily into overcoming obstacles.
There are plenty of obstacles here. In any one level, you will most likely have to deal with booby-traps, push blocks around, and get around the numerous (and ever more terrifying) monsters. To top it off, most levels can't even be cleared until you collect a certain number of keys in the form of blue fireflies. All the while, your ability to control light and shadow will be pivotal in getting the bear through the dozens and dozens of levels that are available.
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A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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